Mini Review of Garmin Forerunner 305

I’ve had my Garmin Forerunner 305 for 2 weeks now and have been quite pleased with it. A few people have asked me for a review of the unit, so I’ll do the best I can.When I first opened the box, I put it on the docking station plugged it into my DC inverter in my car so that it could charge on the way home from REI as I wanted to use it that day and it was supposed to charge for a few hours. After I got home, I plugged it in and it was ready to go in no time. I turned it on, took it outside and it acquired a signal pretty quickly. I browsed the instructions while waiting for it to charge, but didn’t thoroughly go through them.There was no configuration required and I started my first run by strapping on the heart rate monitor (I read a tip that said to put water on the monitor before putting it on), putting the monitor on my watch and I was off. There really was no configuration needed to get it going. It seemed to keep a signal and gives me the data I need to train (current pace and heart rate are about it).I’ve read some complaints about the unit from others in that it doesn’t keep a signal, the heart rate monitor doesn’t work, etc. My unit has performed flawlessly and keeps the signal all the time; I don’t run in wooded areas and there is pretty much a clear view of the sky. Also, the heart rate monitor works fine; another complaint I’ve read has to do with the heart rate monitor not registering when the GPS unit is placed on bicycle handlebars or on a crossbar on a boat. Since I run with it and it was designed for running, it works well. My only problem with the monitor was that I didn’t wet it down one day so it didn’t start registering until I had worked up a good sweat.If I wasn’t a techno geek, I’d stop here as the Forerunner tells me my pace, distance, and heart rate which has been helping me train. One of the reasons I went with the Garmin device is that Garmin announced Macintosh support for their products. The Forerunner comes with Training Center software which currently only works on Windows; I haven’t bothered to install it as Garmin’s subsidiary, MotionBased, put out a beta version of a Mac plugin that uploads data from the Forerunner to the MotionBased website. I love data analysis and this site has more data than I could ever need.The Forerunner has so many options, I don’t even know where to start. I configured my main screen to show my pace, time, and distance. I then configured a secondary screen to show my heart rate and average pace. It took me a few days to figure out that I could reconfigure the screens as I didn’t bother reading the instructions. The device does limited navigation (to get me back to where I started), handles multiple types of activities, etc. I currently have no use for lots of these options, but I’m sure I’ll discover them when I need them or I get bored.I’m quite impressed with the device; it appears to give me accurate information about distance and time. I’m not sure what else I could ask for in a device. I’m definitely giving this device a thumbs up; it makes me excited to get out and run.


  • Easy to use
  • Large readable display
  • Reasonably accurate distance tracking (I did compare a run with Google Earth and found it to be close)
  • Lots of options
  • Not too bulky for what it does (looks better than the Twinkie shaped Forerunner 301)
  • Partial Macintosh support for MotionBased; more is coming
  • Can charge over USB


  • Current desktop software is Windows only Update: Mac software is available. Read my first impressions of it.
  • Training partner is annoying to me, but maybe when I get better it won’t bother me as much

Some pictures of the unit are at the end of this entry. If anyone has specific questions, please post a comment and I’ll try to respond.

172 Replies to “Mini Review of Garmin Forerunner 305”

  1. Just got my Forerunner 305 two days ago and I’m already in a heat of trouble. For once the unit is not able to connect to any satellite. I’m outside in an open field with the blue sky above me, turning it on, don’t move it. No change. Let it run for 35 minutes trying to find a satellite no success.

    The same like for Brett happens to me: “I have followed the instructions but cant seem to get coverage even in the middle of a large open field with no trees or buildings to obstruct a signal. The ‘locating satellite’ bar fills to ~1/5th full and then restarts over and over.”

    It’s very frustrating. I’ve emailed Garmin but are not too sure if they ever respond if I read the customer support horror stories on here.

    I’ve got some time to figure this out. If I cannot make it work I’ll simply return it within 30 days.

  2. Re: Forerunner 305. I am a Soldier in the CA National Guard – in training for the Bataan Memorial March. I plan to run it – first marathon. Will this tool tell me if I am on track for say a 9 minute mile pace? And will it give me distance I’ve run thus far? Thanks for the info. I am new to this type of technology. I think something like this would really help prepare me for the run.

  3. Hi Arne,

    Yes, it will tell you your pace (i.e. 9 minute mile) and it will give you the distance you’ve run. While I haven’t posted about my Forerunner in awhile, I still use it, but not as much. I’m not training for another marathon (and may not run another one), but still plan on running regularly.

  4. Hello,

    Is there a way to make the read out for the heart rate monitor larger? Will the read out for the cadence attachment be as small? Mark

  5. Hi Mark,

    I don’t have an answer about the cadence attachment as I don’t have one. However, as for making the heart rate larger, you can do it by configuring the data fields and making the heart rate one of the fields. The manual gives info on customizing the data fields.

  6. We just gave our teenager the 305. she is frustrated with not having the miles but feet when running. any suggestions? Thanks, Donna

  7. Whoops, I misread the question. I think it starts out feet and then changes to miles after maybe 1000 ft. A quick call to Garmin should provide the answer if this isn’t what you’re seeing.

  8. Have you had or heard about reliability issues? I have had the unit since July 07 and had to already send it back to Garmin twice. First time the battery died, this time the unit would not start without soft reset (reset+mode buttons pressed). It does not even hard reset. I really like the unit (when it works), but I am getting very frustrated and I have at least two friends with similar problems, which would suggest system issues.

  9. Hi Vladimir,

    Maybe I’m just lucky, but my unit, which I bought in March 2006, has performed flawlessly. I had to soft reset it once and replace the battery on the heart rate strap once, but other than that, it has always worked. I usually keep it in the charger on my desk charging via USB and always make sure I wipe it down after using it.

  10. I just received a 305 for Christmas and used it for the 3rd time for my 10 run this morning. One of the main reasons for choosing the 305 was to have full real time visibility of my HR. Unfortunately, I am only able to find the HR in the upper right corner in a VERY small font. It is TOO small to see when running. So far, I am unable to see how to create a display option to see the HR in a very large font. Suggestions? Thanks, in advance, for your reply.

  11. Hi ! I just got my Garmin 305 but I cant get the information to the computer. The computer finds the device, but once I try to receive information there is a “problem connecting with your device. Please make sure it is connected to the computer, then try again.”

  12. Valdimar, I have the same problem. Cleaning the contacts doesn\’t seem to fix the problem. After I few attempts it connects and downloads. Frustrating, but it finally does work. Question is…what to do when it finally stops connecting. I\’ve uninstalled and reinstalled the software that doesn\’t help either. Software updates..same problem. I\’m reading this blog to find a solution too. Good luck.

  13. Thank you to everyone who has posted here! The info is tremendously beneficial! I recently experienced problems with my Timex Hr monitor after two years of solid use. At this point, I would like to upgrade to the Forerunner series. Should I settle for the 305 or wait for the new 405 model??

  14. Hi Chad,

    The 405 is a slick device (I checked it out at Macworld), but there are some differences between the 405 and 305 (I think Garmin has a comparison on their website). The 405 can be used as a regular watch without looking like a honking device. You’ll probably be able to find the 305 a bit cheaper than the 405. I’ve had my 305 almost 2 years now and love it. However, if I get some extra cash, I’m going to get the 405 as I could wear it all the time and more easily track my distance when we walk the dog instead of having to go get my 305 that is on my desk.

  15. Tyler,

    This really should be handled on Garmin’s support site, but I’d be more than happy to setup a forum if Garmin sends me say a Forerunner 405 and a Nüvi 360 as compensation 🙂

  16. Hi Scott:I’ve had my forerunner 305 for about 2months & love it, but last week during a race its shut off. I was on the beach clear blue sky, and it just shut off. Called garmin they had me reset the while thing. Today same thing after 1 hr of using it. it shuts off. any idea? why this happens. Does anyone else have this problem. Thanks Jeff

  17. Scott I’ve got no idea/ altitude reading seem to be? I use the 305 for pace and distance for my marathon’s. Sorry I dont’ know the answer to what to had asked.

  18. Hi! I am looking into buying a heart rate monitor and distance tracker for running with and thought I would check out some of the reviews. I have a question about the 305. As someone who is still pretty new to running, I focus my runs more on time than distance… so instead of running for a set distance, I run for a set time. This is at least for now until I can get my fitness levels up higher. Is it easy to track your run based on time? Like if I wanted to run 4 minutes, walk 1, run 30 minutes, walk 1, run 4.. is it easy to do that? I noticed it doesn’t have a sports watch so I was not sure if the time only functioned as a stop watch or if you can plug in how long you want to run for or what. Thanks!

  19. And another question.. what is the difference between the 305 and 405? Looking through the specs it appears that the 305 has more features even than the 405. Other than the 405 being smaller (which in my mind is a slight disadvantage since I like being able to easily see the screen), slightly lighter, and less resolution, wireless connect, and transfer to other units, what is the point of getting a 405 instead? Does it work out bugs in the 305’s design or software? Get better satellite reception? Anyone know?

  20. Stephanie,
    I hope this answers your question: The 305 has a Time/Rest Time Interval Setting on it so you can set a running time, then a rest (walking) time and it will beep to let you know. Now, you have 3 intervals in your question, so you can create an Advanced Workout Session and set up your intervals. I have not tried it but, I probably will try today, and comment otherwise if necessary.

  21. Hi Stephanie,

    I thought there was a post on Garmin’s blog comparing the 2, but I can’t find it. There is one comparing the 2 for multi sport use. The 305 has some more features and the 405 can be used as an everyday watch. I really like my 305 (I’ve had it for 2 years now), but am itching for a 405 as I could wear it regularly and wouldn’t have to switch watches when I go for a walk (I like to record all my walks and runs). As for your other questions about the differences, I don’t know. The 405 won’t be out for another month, so we’ll have to wait and see.

    I’d love to publish a review on the 405, but we’ll have to see if I get one.

  22. Is it just me, or is the calorie counter wildly off? I burned twice as many calories with this unit as I usually do running the same amount of time. Perhaps Garmin magic makes you burn more calories when you wear it- if so, they should market THAT feature!


  23. I’ve had my Garmin 305 for about 2 years and I love it. It may have accuracy and altitude problems, but for what I want, it’s perfect (and if I have the cash on hand I will probably go ahead and buy the 405 when it comes out!). But my issue is that up until a few months ago when I switched from PCs to a MacBook Pro, I had no problems charging my 305 when away from home. Although I have read on this site that the Mac usb will charge the 305, when I attach the cradle with the 305 to my Mac usb it just sits there, tries to turn on, and tries to locate satellites. the one problem that I might have is that I don’t have any of the Garmin software loaded on my Mac (is there any?)….do you have to have the Garmin software loaded on the Mac for the usb to charge the 305? Any help with this would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

  24. Hi Clinton,

    I only have the Garmin Communicator (a Safari plugin for loading stuff into MotionBased) loaded on my MacBook Pro and the 305 sometimes charges. I know it has nothing to do with the Communicator software; I think the charging on the 305 is a little flakey. Sometimes I have to pull it out of the cradle and put it back in to get it to charge over USB. If it turns on, I have to turn it off.

    Like you, I plan on getting a 405, but the ANT software won’t be Mac compatible until later this year which is a bit disappointing.

  25. Scott –
    I am trying to decide if the Garmin 305 is the right product for me. Do you find yourself thinking that it is too bulky on your arm? What is your opinion for it fitting a woman? Did you look at any other products before deciding on the Garmin 305? I am trying to decide between the Polar F11, the Garmin 305, and the Suunto t4. Any advice?

  26. Scott,
    Thanks for the reply re: charging a 305 on a Mac. Now that I’m home and can charge on my PC, maybe it wasn’t my Mac after all. I seem to be having some of the same issues with my PC (“flakey” charging, inadequate charging, etc.). So, now my question is, “Do the 305 battery have a “life time?” In other words, as I said in a previous post my 305 is almost 2 years old now and is it possible that the battery is getting to the point where it just won’t hold a charge? If so, can I replace this battery? This is a major problem as I plan to run a marathon Sunday 4/27 and really want a fully charged 305 available for it. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

  27. I’d charge it via the AC Adapter just to be sure. I’m sure there is a lifetime for the battery, but I don’t have a clue what it is. My 305 is over 2 years old and it still seems to charge via USB fine. However, I’ll likely replace it with a 405 before it completely dies.

  28. Scott,
    Thanks. Now, I hate to ask this….but it came with an AC adapter? Gee that was 2 years ago, 2 moves ago, and I have no idea where it might be. Well, let me try to find it. Thanks again … and yes, I would like to get the 405 ASAP!


  29. Please help if you can:

    I have accidentally been in the MULTISPORT mode while doing a bike ride or run. I have approximately 45 single runs and rides placed in this mode when they should be credited to their respective sport.
    -How do I change or take out a multisport run or ride and put the result in its proper category? It does not seem to be a simple click and drag…
    -My last Multisport mishaps was this week and I realized that a run was recorded in Multisport. After the run I changed back to the RUN function and pushed the reset for three seconds. The next three workouts continued in multisport. PLEASE HELP.


  30. Hi Scott
    I just bought my 305 and upon updating the user profile, i am still unable to get the total calories burnt, i use it for spinning and indoor workouts mainly. Pls help

  31. I cannot fig out how to get the right time. My device is showing half of my running time. If I don\’t use the GPS, I get the right time. But when I use the GPS I always get the wrong time. Help!!!

  32. I like this Garmin foreruner 305. I want to use it to replace my Polar S625X. Here is my issue. I can set my Polar watch to get me through a 100 mile ultra run. It seems after about 14-20 hours of logging my info it whacks out. Pace goes crazy, which is the most important reason for using the watch (replacing the foot pod battery doesn’t fix this issue I have).

    I don’t see how I can get the Garmin to last for 30 hours. a year ago I noticed a fella showing how he made a charger that could be used with some radio shack parts and a 9v battery. I never paid attention to who that fella was but I sure did notice his charging rig. Have you ever seen anyone come up with a charging rig that could be added to this watch to make it last about 30-32 hours. thanks.

  33. Hi Forerunners
    I am looking in to buy a forerunner 305. One of my concerns is if the watertightness is all right. What are your experiences ? Is it allrigth to use the 305 on wet rainy days – without condense is occuring ? – Another question, I would like to use the 305 during skiing. Any experiences if it is working properly at low temp. f.ex. minus 15 Celsius degrees ?
    Kind regards
    Martin Jensen

  34. Starting with the Forerunner 305. Garmin finally started producing GPS-enabled watches that
    didn’t make you look like a total goof while tracking your pace and
    vitals, but these still weren’t timepieces you’d be comfortable
    wearing to the office or even a bar. Then came the Forerunner
    50, which had the perfect watch-like form factor, but
    unfortunately, no GPS. So fans of this line will be pleased to learn
    that Garmin has somehow been able to shoehorn a satellite receiver
    into a casing not much bigger than the 50’s and dubbed it the Forerunner
    405. Besides monitoring and logging speed, distance, heart rate
    and location, the 405 also features a touch-sensitive bezel for
    controlling its various functions, as well as the same proprietary
    ANT+Sport wireless syncing technology as the GPS-less 50. Available
    in either black or green.

  35. Thanks Scott for creating this site for everyone to use and share. I have owned my Garmin 305 for about 6 months now. I have recently started to run 5-6 days a week to train for a half marathon. Unfortunately, I don’t think my 305 liked the increase in mileage.

    My Garmin 305 will not power on or automatically synch with my laptop once plugged into the USB unless I soft reset the device everytime I want to use it.

    I’ve tried software updates and cleanings and read posts here and on other sites. I’ve read about this problem or similar issues that others are having and it looks like I’ll have to try and send it back to Garmin as it’s still under warranty. I love my Garmin 305. It’s really helped me to get better and I could not have progressed as a runner without it. Wish me luck in getting it repaired!!

  36. Update: Ended up master resetting my device and it cleared all the issues I was having. It’s works great when I power it on and synch it with Garmin Myconnect.

    Master reset
    1. Turn off the Forerunner
    2. Hold down Mode + Power
    3. Select Yes when the unit asks if you want to erase all user data
    4. After resetting your Forerunner, leave it with a clear view of the sky for about 30 minutes without moving it to acquire a GPS fix

  37. I’m thinking of buying one through either amazzon or ebay – can anyone tell me if there are any significant differences between the US models and the models designed for sale in either Europe or Australia? I’m assuming the only difference would be the chargers but would like to be sure before I buy. Thanks.

  38. I am eagerlay awaiting the arrivval of my new 305 and have read quite a bit about its uses etc. I have one question though – using the advanced workout function, is one able to pre-programme km split times or pace (preferably with an alarm) for a race, in order to attempt to reach a targeted finish time? I know that the “auto-lap” function could be set to alert me for each km run, but that extra funcionality wouldbe a huge help!

  39. Hi Scott, and followers!

    Just recently got very interested in this little cool device, as we’re seeing massive savings and offers on it this christmas in Denmark. I’m intending to use it for running and MTB. One of my main concerns is the altitude-meter – I’m gonna use this a lot for mountainbiking, and needs an opinion on this. Has the altitude meter been improved and newer firmware and software updates?

    I assume that the missing precision has something to do with poor maps – When i use google earth to check heights and altitude in my area, it’s actually pretty precise. Could that meen for me, that Garmin’s acces to altitude data in my area, is just as good, and useful?

    Opinions very welcome!

    1. Hi Rasmus,

      The Forerunner 305 doesn’t use maps at all to determine altitude, it uses the GPS satellites. The accuracy of the altitude will be based on how good your GPS signal is and how many satellites are acquired by the device at any given time. As my runs don’t cover much range in altitude, I’ve never really paid attention to it.

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